Agenda Topics: Election of PC officers, ZBA, Parks & Rec representatives, PC Bylaws, Lake Zoning overlay

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This Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting was notable for its absences.  

  • The absence of thermostat control over the 2nd floor heating system.  The room temperature was over 80 degrees.
  • The absence of Manager Fink.   At a minimum, he could have turned off the furnace.
  • An absence of civility.

Commissioner Ken Dignan started this meeting with a bang.  Chairperson Chockley asked if anyone had any correspondence they would like to share.  Dignan jumped on her case [LiveVideo] about a letter supposedly emailed to every commissioner on the 14th by the Living Water Community Church.  He said it was about a zoning issue discussion that needed to be placed on the Agenda.  Dignan loudly demanded to know why it wasn't on the agenda. 

Chockley explained that she didn't have the Church correspondence in front of her. Dignan picked up a copy of the letter and reached across in front of Chick as if to hand it to Chockley. Just as Chockley reached out and opened her hand to grasp the letter, Dignan dropped it to the desk, a cheap trick most of us haven't seen since grade school. [LiveVideo] 

Commissioner Larry Roman observed that the letter had been passed through Manager Fink.  Roman said that nothing in Fink's comments indicated that it was to be added to the Agenda. 

It is no longer a secret that Dignan wants the Chairpersonship.  Had Dignan's indignance been nothing more than an attempt to embarrass the Chairperson? 

Roman added that although he was not opposed to discussing anything, that the Agenda had already been approved. 

The Commission voted to add the discussion to New Business.


Board of Trustees Representative Chick proposed amending the Bylaws so that future elections of PC officials would follow the annual appointments by Trustees.  Elections are now tied to specific dates.  No one had anticipated the present impasse.   Larry Roman and others contributed changes as well.  These changes will become part of the revisions discussed at the upcoming Public Hearing on Bylaws.

Agenda: NEW BUSINESS, Item A: Election of Planning Commission Officers and ZBA and Parks and Recreation Representatives

In a 4:3 decision the PC voted to postpone electing its officers for the coming year.   The reason?  At the January 12 Board of Trustees meeting the Township Supervisor refused to appoint Commissioners to replace the expired seats of Iaquinto and Roman, appointments which expired December, 2015.   Four Commissioners decided that the election could wait until the new Commissioners were seated by the Board. 

Commissioner Dignan was indignant.  He implied grave consequences.  An attorney would be consulted.  Then he made a motion to Adjourn the meeting.  The motion failed in another 4:3 vote.  Dignan, Stanalajczo, and Iaquinto voted to Adjourn.  Iaquinto did mention the extreme heat in the room.

Note that this adjournment would have occured immediately preceding New Business, Item B: the discussion of the Living Water Church zoning issue, which Dignan had earlier devoted several minutes of overwrought histrionics getting onto the Agenda. 

Agenda: NEW BUSINESS, Item B: Discussion of letter from Living Water Community Church. 

Lakeside Saddlery 320w 228h Whitmore Lake's Living Water Church addressed the PC in a letter about rezoning 200 Barker Road, which they may buy.  Chairperson Chockley read the letter aloud.   200 Barker is now the site of the Lakeside Saddlery, a business which is now for sale. What did we learn?  This issue might be resolved by extending the downtown zoning district to the edge of US-23.  The district now stops at the railroad tracks crossing Barker Road.  Several uses, including a Providence Hospital system satellite clinic, were proposed uses for the site.  The rezoning would enable the necessary variances to be obtained.  

The Living Water Church is part of Ann Arbor's St. Luke's Lutheran Church, which is in turn part of the Missouri Synod.  Living Water currently rents meeting areas in the Whitmore Lake High School.  Living Water is in the process of deciding whether to separate from St. Luke's so that it can finance a church building of its own.  St Luke's has apparently borrowed all that it can from the Synod financial arm. 

Here are the FAQs and discussions which St. Luke's has placed online.

Agenda: POLICY REVIEW AND DISCUSSION: A. Lake Overlay Zoning

In the discussion of Lake District Overlay zoning, Township Planner Leah DuMouchel again provided professional advice with a professional demeanor.   Everyone participated in a polite discussion.  DuMouchel's report in tonight's meeting packet covers most of what was said.  One takeaway from the discussion: The houses can't be too large.  If you want a lake community you have to be able to see the lake. 

Manager Fink missed this meeting.  He has attended most of the the Planning Commission meetings since his hiring by Northfield Township.